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Easy Entertaining: Quince Paste

I recently read about quince paste (or membrillo as it is called in Spain where it is originally from) and was very curious to try some for myself. Turns out- while very time consuming, it is quite easy to make! The hardest part is tracking down quince- they are only available for a short window of time. So this past weekend when I had a few hours, and I was able to find some knobbly green quince at whole foods, I decided to give it a shot.

Most of the recipes I share on this blog are called “easy entertaining” because they are so quick and easy to make. But sometimes, it is also just as easy to have a pantry full of ingredients that you can plate and serve up at the drop of a hat. (frozen cookie dough in the freezer, an emergency container of hummus, an arsenal of crackers, etc) At the holidays, it is especially important to have a few of these back up snacks because you never know who is going to drop by or when you will be stopping by someone else’s (can’t show up empty handed!!) Quince paste is another great pantry item that you can make in bulk and is good in the fridge forever. Serve it up with a little manchego cheese, a few crackers, glass of wine and you have yourself quite the Spanish themed evening!

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Quince Paste (Membrillo)

What you need:

  • Quince
  • Sugar
  • Lemon- peel and juice separated
  • Whole Vanilla Bean

Start by peeling, coring and cutting the quince into 3 inch (ish) cubes. Put in your biggest pot on the stove and cover the fruit completely with water. Split the vanilla bean and add it with the lemon peel to the water. Bring to a boil and keep heat up until the quince is cooked completely through. You should be able to start cutting it easily with a fork. Drain all of the water and remove the vanilla and lemon.

Next, return quince to the pot over low heat and add the lemon juice. Begin pureeing with an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen gadget!!). It will become the most incredibly smooth texture. Now, judging by a rough guess, add an amount of sugar about equal in weight to the amount of puree you have. This is a LOT of sugar. Yes, you really do need that much- quince are not sweet at all. It is helpful to think about how many pounds quince you bought at the grocery store- I added about 2/3 of that in sugar.

Now is the fun part. For the next hour and a half you must continually stir your quince over low heat so it does not burn, and watch it magically transformed from a very loose yellowish liquid to a dark rosy thick paste. Its hard to say when it is “done”. For me, this was when I could barely stir anymore and the consistency was similar to the thickest brownie batter you can imagine- it started to pull away from the sides of the pan and I could almost ball it up- but it was still pourable and spreadable.

Line an airtight container with buttered parchment paper and pour in the quince paste to about a 1-2″ thickness. Use a spatula smooth the surface and let rest until cool. That is it! Cover and put in the fridge- it will keep forever but I cannot promise how long it will last šŸ˜‰

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My Favorite Fall Hue: Wine

Do you have a favorite color, the kind that when you see anything made in that hue, the color alone makes you immediately fall in love and NEED to buy? In the summer, I have a strong urge to buy anything lime/neon green and in the fall/winter I am incredibly drawn to anything wine colored. The color is so rich and pleasing- and lucky for me, many designers seem to agree. You can pair it with almost anything: wine paired with black is exceptionally dramatic, mixing it up with a camel more on the traditional side, while a neon lavender makes for a trendy contrast and a white crisp shirt with those cords? I mean, how can you not fall in love?? Also- how happy are we that the peplum trend continues to be here to stay?

My favorite fall color

So whether you call it cabernet, plum, oxblood- its one of my favorites and I’ll be hunting more items down all season long! What is your favorite fall fashion color???


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Easy Entertaining: An Outdoor Fall Gathering

On the theme of Wednesday’s post, I thought I would extend the idea of an intimate outdoor gathering to today’s “Easy Entertaining”. Invite over a few friends, set the scene with a fire and a few decorations, and add a few tasty nibbles to the mix. Oh, and don’t forget the perfect bottle of wine!

outdoor fall party

1.Ā  The folks at Kinfolk recently released this cookbook promoting their mantra of putting emphasis on the relationships that surround eating rather than a long complex menu. It sounds like a delightful idea- keep things easy and focus on spending time with good company!! I”m very curious to see what recipes are included in the book. Stay tuned for a full report!

2. In love with these delicate yet rustic tin votives

3. Campfire Popcorn!!!! Make sure to add a little salt and sugar just after popping!

4. I’ve had my eye on a chalkboard cheeseboard for sometime now. Great look, and also saves you the effort of explaining cheeses all night to guests.

5. The Prisoner is one of my favorite red wines, blending Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache. It features flavors of cherry, espresso and roasted fig which I think sounds perfect for a fall setting.

6. If you are going to make your friends sit outside all night, it’s essential that you have a good stack of blankets on hand to keep everyone warm!

7. See #6. The fire is also key.


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Embracing Fall

As hesitant as I may be to admit this, Fall is starting to capture my heart again. In New England, with the crisp air and the changing leaves, its hard to not feel the season. Fall is cool and cozy and magical. I think these photos sum it up.

Embracing FallRiverhot air balloon

And this. Can you imagine? It never dawned on me to host a dinner party outside when the temps aren’t getting above 60, but even though it sounds chilly- it looks so warm.

Outdoor Fall Table

Now this party is all I can think about (the fact that I don’t have a backyard being a minor detail). A simple gathering with close friends, delicious food and all the sentiments of Autumn is exactly what we need. Bonfire required. Wouldn’t you agree?

Fall Feast

Fall Feast2

bonfire

 


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Business Casual

Ohhhhhhh Businesss Casual- the most vague of all dress codes, ranging from dressy jeans to pencil skirts with silk tops. But with all the flexibility- people STILL get it wrong. There must be some serious grey area on the line between “casual” and “business casual”. I know I work for an engineering company (notoriously challenged dressers) but I was in SHOCK today when i saw a girl walking around in a hoodie. Not a cute sweater hoodie- an actual sweatshirt. I mean, dressing for work shouldn’t be so difficult! Pretty much my rule is “If you can wear heels with it, its a go” but I guess not everyone got the memo. I’m not saying you have to have some super corporate/ super expensive wardrobe- but I think if you want to be taken professionally in this world, you need to dress professionally.

So here is my quick guide to dressing for the “business casual” office. Let me know your thoughts- maybe I’ll extend this feature to different dress codes as well- or maybe even put together a feature for the guys out there (are there any who read this??….besides you, Nick?)

The best part is I think that each one of these tops could be matched with ANY of the bottoms- that’s 25 different outfits for those of you counting!!

Business Casual Workweek